Tacoma Councilmember shares personal connection to homelessness crisis: 'It’s traumatic'

TACOMA -- For Tacoma City Councilmember Keith Blocker, the homelessness crisis in the city is one he feels personally connected to.  That's because for most of his childhood, he experienced the struggles of living without a stable home.

For the last few weeks, there has been a focus on homelessness in Tacoma. The city enacted a tent ban on Dec. 1.

Weeks before the new law went into effect, the community had voiced their issues with the plan. In some instances, hostility over the city’s handling of the homelessness crisis has been directed toward city Blocker.

“I don’t understand why all the anger is, you know, directed toward me,” he said.

For Blocker, the crisis is something he feels personally connected to, because for 13 years of his life he did not have a stable home.

“I remember the first time my mom said she can’t pay the rent, I was about 7 years old,” said Blocker.

Block says it was a struggle for most of his childhood. His mom struggled with addiction, she also had to escape domestic violence situations, he says.

“It’s scary; it’s traumatic. I know I went through years of trauma dealing with the stigma,” he said.

Now, it’s a different struggle, as Blocker is fighting against homelessness in a much different way.

“Sleeping in a tent should not be a permanent situation,” said Blocker.

The city is working to find alternative shelter for people experiencing homelessness. Within the last few weeks, the city has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into tiny home villages and efforts to recruit faith-based organizations to providing shelter.

“I just want to see people get the help they need,” said Blocker.